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LDS president calls for global fast in support of health care workers, scientists

(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is calling for a global fast on Good Friday, a traditional day of fasting for the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics.

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KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross spoke with Boyd Matheson, Opinion Editor of LDS-owned Deseret News, about his latest column on the compatibility of faith and science and how it relates to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s so easy to get into the false choice of science or spiritual, or faith, or reason,” Matheson said. “They’re actually compatible principles that can be brought together for the betterment of society.”

Matheson said that president Nelson has a unique perspective on the idea as a former heart surgeon.

“He gets the science part of it,” Matheson said. “But he also gets the faith part.”

Faith isn’t going to eradicate a virus, as commenters in Matheson’s latest column pointed out. So what is the role of faith or prayer?

“When you’ve been knocked to your knees, it’s not a bad idea when you’re down there to put in a good word and ask for heavenly help or divine guidance,” Matheson said. “It doesn’t diminish at all the need for the scientists, the health care professionals, and the first responders.”

Nelson closed 160 temples around the world, canceled weekly services, and brought home 30,000 missionaries to the United States in a couple of weeks.

“The call for a fast on Friday is a chance to come together in prayer, in faith, in support of the health care professionals and the scientists,” Matheson said. “Let’s make sure we’re praying for the economy and the small businesses.”

Dave knows the protocol for Catholics — no snacks, no between meals, you get one meal that doesn’t include meat. Matheson said the fast traditionally means giving up two meals or not eating for 24 hours, but really, do what makes sense for you.

“It’s an opportunity to think through what would be a sacrifice for me,” he explained. “What could I sacrifice for 24 hours? What could I do to focus more on prayer and reach out to a neighbor in a way we can in this current environment?”

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Dave asked if it’s going too far to ask that Boeing rise to 300 in the stock market. Chuckling, Matheson said that praying for your 401K may not be in the spirit of the fast.

Disclaimer: The LDS Church owns Bonneville International, KIRO Radio and MyNorthwest’s parent company.

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